When a flower blooms

How to Identify Vegetable Vines

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Identifying vegetable vines is fairly simple because only a few vegetable plants — beans, peas, tomatoes and cucurbits — have a vining habit. Most vegetables, such as lettuce, carrots, peppers, corn and broccoli, have an upright habit. Bush varieties of beans, tomatoes, melons and squash may not vine either, but have a compact, upright form. With the exception of peas, which thrive in cool, spring weather, all vining vegetable plants thrive in warm, sunny conditions and need 2 to 3 months of summer weather to mature.

Examine the plants for a trellis or support system. Snap peas, English peas and pole beans must have support to thrive. These plants cling to wires or string via tendrils. Other plants, such as tomatoes or cucumbers, may also grow on supports, but they don’t cling. Instead, gardeners secure them to support systems with twine, strips of fabric or plastic ties.

Consider the height and width of the plant. Tomato plants usually grow at least 2 feet high without a cage or trellis. Caged tomatoes may grow 6 feet or higher and 3 feet wide. Melons, pumpkins and cucumbers usually remain fairly low to the ground, growing 2 feet high. However, the vines sprawl across the garden soil, stretching 6 feet or more.

Evaluate the leaves. Peas have small, oval leaves, while pole beans produce heart-shaped, slightly fuzzy leaves. Many people find bean leaves irritating to the touch. Tomato leaves are lobed, crinkled and have a distinctive tomato smell. The leaves of cucumber and cantaloupe plants are 3 to 4 inches across, lobed and wrinkled. Pumpkin, squash and watermelon leaves resemble cucumber and cantaloupe leaves in shape, but are much larger — 8 to 10 inches across.

Inspect the plant for flowers and fruit. Peas, beans and tomatoes produce small, white or yellow flowers followed by small fruit, while cucumbers, melons, squash and pumpkins produce extravagant yellow flowers followed by large fruit.

Beautiful Vegetables For Foliage: Tips On Using Edibles As Ornamentals

I grow gorgeous scarlet Carmen sweet peppers, rippling dinosaur kale, flowering leeks, and crimson strawberries every year, amongst other things. They are so pretty in the garden, or at least I think they are. I also adore flowers and have a multitude of flowering pots with annual color mixed with perennials adorning my deck and front patio. What if the two mixed? What are some beautiful vegetables that can be used for foliage color and how can you mix decorative edibles with other plants?

Veggies and Herbs for Container Foliage

Using edibles as ornamentals to accentuate the beauty of potted annual flowers isn’t a new thing. Many people tuck an herb in here or there amongst their hanging flower baskets. The idea of using vegetable plants as ornamentals first and foremost over growing them for food is a newer inspiration.

Really, this is a win-win proposition since many of these ornamental vegetable plants are also decorative edibles. Sort of like the old Reese’s commercial about who is responsible for getting the peanut butter mixed with the chocolate. In the ad, the end result was delicious just as the end result of mixing flowering annuals and ornamental vegetable plants would be gorgeous as well as useful.

I think all of my veggies are beautiful but if I had to choose, what are some beautiful vegetables for foliage color and texture to add to an ornamental vegetable garden or container?

Edibles as Ornamentals

Well, we’ve already mentioned adding herbs into the mix of container grown annuals and/or perennials. They add not only beauty with various leaf and flower textures and colors, but also a pleasing aroma, which often attract pollinators while repelling unwelcome insect pests. Plus, they are usually situated near the kitchen or grill where their easy accessibility makes us use them all the more often.

It’s easy to mix veggies and herbs for container foliage color and texture and is just

as suitable for the rest of the garden. To illuminate your plantings further, try planting in raised garden beds for easy access and improved drainage or create a circular garden that will be a focal point of your landscape.

Ornamental Vegetable Plants

There are a multitude of colorful vegetables that can be added to create interest in containers as well as the garden. Tucking in interesting looking leafy greens will add interest. Leafy greens come in a variety of colors and textures from every shade of green to red hues, bronzes and purples.

  • Red fire or Red Sails are loose leaf lettuces that bring into play the reddish-bronze tones while Cimmaron lettuce is more bronze.
  • Try Freckles instead of plain green romaine. This romaine type is splotched with burgundy and resistant to bolting. Darker burgundy Galactic has curled leaf edges and is also resistant to bolting.
  • Rainbow chard comes in a plethora of colors. Bright Lights is a chard variety whose stems and leaf veins arrive in riotous hues of orange, red, yellow, purple-red, and hot pink. Because it is a taller green, plant it as a backdrop for smaller plants.

I mentioned my Carmen sweet peppers earlier, but there is seemingly no end to the colors, shapes, and sizes available for pepper lovers. Everything from rather “ho-hum” green to purple, white, yellow, red, orange, brown, and even white peppers are available with every available hue within this rainbow of options.

Eggplant is yet another delightful option for the ornamental vegetable gardener. These also come in multi-hued varieties from dark purple to green, white, pink, lavender and even striped varietals.

Tomatoes, with their cheery red fruit, are an obvious choice to integrate splashes of color throughout the landscape. Again, this fruit comes in a dizzying array of colors from white, yellow, purple, green, black, and red and, yet again, striped.

If you thought beans were just green, think again. There are a number of colorful beans that can add a flush of color. Try planting purple or yellow “green” beans. Don’t forget about the colorful bean blossoms! Ornamental scarlet runner bean blossoms are a vivid pink and will enliven any area of the garden or container.

Many of us use cabbage in the fall for added color to our landscape or flower pots when summer colors have begun to fade. Cabbage comes in many shapes and colors, as does cauliflower and broccoli. Oddly hued orange cauliflower or purple broccoli might just be the thing to entice those members of your household who refuse to touch a green veggie!

Don’t forget the perennials! Globe artichoke adds dimension and has striking foliage along with interesting fruit that, if left to linger, turns into a hallucinogenic blue that attracts bees from miles around. Asparagus has long wispy, fern-like fronds and rhubarb returns reliably year after year with elephant ear sized leaves beneath which scarlet stalks rise up from the soil.

Caring for Decorative Edibles

With the exception of the perennials, change out the ornamental veggies each year and experiment with combinations that are most pleasing to your eye. An added bonus, crop rotation helps keep the garden and soil healthy. Depending upon the vegetable, you can also change out crops seasonally. As one plant dies back, replant with a cool season vegetable. Include edible flowers that can be tucked in here and there.

Lastly, keep the garden in good shape. Remove any weeds and crop detritus and keep plants pruned and deadheaded. The goal, after all, is to integrate the vegetable plants and herbs in such a way that they are simply seen as ornamental. Maintaining a neat and sanitary ornamental garden will also cut back on the incidence of disease and encourage you to get out there and harvest some of these edible ornamental beauties.

Growing these plants in containers makes them even easier to maintain, but ensure the pots are both large enough to accommodate mature plants and provide adequate drainage.

I recently received an email from One Hundred Dollars a Month reader, Kathy in Ohio. She wrote,

Hi Mavis! Happy Wednesday to you! Have you ever discussed blossom drop in tomatoes? It’s when the blossoms bloom then drop off tomato plants, with no fruit setting. Someone recently came to me asking about it, and luckily enough, after years of caring for acres of tomatoes when my step father was alive on the farm, I was able to help her.
I think your readers would like to know about this. After all, it has been hot and humid around most of the country lately and that can be a factor when dealing with blossom drop.

It can also affect other fruit bearing veggie plants like peppers, green beans, cucumbers, pumpkins and other squash, melons and eggplant
By the way, I’m in NE Ohio, where it’s been near 90 or above, with super high humidity.

Have an excellent day!

Excellent suggestion, Kathy. Thanks!

Blossom drop can be maddening. The worst part of blossom drop is that several things can cause it. It is an indication that the plant is under some level of stress, so you may have to trouble shoot a bit what could be causing it in your specific situation. First off, blossom drop is when the flowers {that should eventually become tomatoes} wither up and fall off–which means no tomatoes. Whah!

Typically, blossom drop occurs when temperatures spike very quickly or drop quickly. Drastic changes in temperature really stress tomatoes out. As Kathy mentioned, humidity can also do a number on potato plants. If you live in a low humidity area, it’s an easy fix, you can try wetting the foliage a bit during the day to get a bit of humidity into the air around the plant. If you live in a high humidity area, it’s pretty darn hard to control.

If the weather isn’t the problem, it may be a pollination issue. If you don’t have bees buzzing around your garden, you may not have great pollination. Without pollination, no tomatoes, plain and simple.

Lack of water or nitrogen in the soil can also stress out a tomato plant. During the hottest months, it’s really best to give a deep water {like flood irrigation} once a week, rather than a daily surface sprinkle. The water really needs to reach the roots, and if given the change, tomatoes like to lay some deep roots. If you suspect your soil might not be very nutrient rich, try a quality organic nitrogen based fertilizer. Follow the instructions on the fertilizer for application.

Inspect your plants regularly for insects or disease. Again, an infestation or disease will stress out your plant, causing it drop flowers.

Finally, and this is probably the best case scenario, it can happen when you have a really heavy crop.

Yep, even too much of a good thing is not a good thing. The good news is that after you harvest some of the tomatoes, it should resolve itself. The plant only has so much nutrients to go around, so if there is an over-abundance of fruit, it will drop some of the flowers to concentrate on growing the rest of the fruit.

Once you know what is causing your blossom drop, you can easily address the issue {except for controlling the weather, I haven’t figured out how to do that yet :)}.

Thanks again for the suggestion, Kathy! I can’t believe I haven’t thought to address the topic before.

~Mavis

How to make a flower bloom more (and longer)

With a little planning, your garden can have flower blooms almost all year long. Unlike annuals that bloom consistently over many months, perennials generally have a window of time when they bloom. So, many beginner gardeners find it difficult to create a colorful 4-season garden using just perennials. The biggest struggles I’ve heard are that the garden just looks green, there’s not enough color or things feel too bland. But, having a low-maintenance perennial border doesn’t have to be this way. There are several ways to increase a flower’s bloom time and frequency.

How to get your flowers to bloom more… and longer

In this post I’ll go over a few ways to create long seasons of bloom with perennials that will come back year to year. With a little planning, you’ll be able to enjoy your perennial garden with very little effort. And it will reward you year after year with beautiful blooms and four seasons of color!

What Blooms with What?

Never know what to plant together? Find out with this FREE Plant Pairing Guide and become a pro at combining plants for the best garden design possible!

Hey, since you’re already signed up for my emails, you may be interested in my Printable Garden Planner Kit. It includes 5 printable worksheets that you can use to plan and organize your landscape. Check it out here.

Choose long-blooming perennials

This may seem like common sense, but I find that many beginner gardeners tend to choose plants that are flowering when they visit the garden center without much thought of what that flower or plant looks like the rest of the year. While it’s ok to choose a few beautiful flowers or plants that have a short bloom period, I encourage you to fill your garden with perennials that bloom with color for longer periods of time.

What perennials bloom all season?

Wondering which perennials bloom all season long? A few of my favorites are daylilies, salvias and knockout rose bushes. All three of these plants will bloom throughout the entire summer with little to no effort on your part. You’ll find a lot more of my favorites in my post about perennial plants and flowers for mixed borders.

Deadhead your flowers for more (and longer) blooms

This is a little more maintenance than I care to deal with, but it’s a known fact that deadheading your flowers after they bloom will encourage your perennials to bloom again. Deadheading is very simple. As plants fade out of bloom, pinch or cut off the flower stem below the spent flower and just above the first set of full, healthy leaves. Repeat with all the dead flowers on the plant. Deadhead early and often. With just a little effort, you’ll be enjoying more blooms and even extended bloom times. A few plants to try deadheading with are shasta daisies, salvia, bleeding hearts, knockout roses and coneflowers.

Never know what to plant together? Find out with this FREE Plant Pairing Guide and become a pro at combining plants for the best garden design possible!

Hey, since you’re already signed up for my emails, you may be interested in my Printable Garden Planner Kit. It includes 5 printable worksheets that you can use to plan and organize your landscape. Check it out here.

Fertilize your plants for extended blooms

Fertilizing your perennials so they have proper nutrition is another way to extend the length of bloom time. I wrote a post about soil improvement tips that will help you get started with fertilizing. I have a very simple regiment to replenish my soil each spring and fall. In the spring, I add 1-2” of organic matter to my garden beds. And, in the fall I sprinkle my beds with some bone meal to replace nutrients and get my plants ready for winter. Don’t overdo this – About a tablespoon of bone meal is enough fertilizer for 1×1 sq ft, such as a large planter pot.

What kind of fertilizer makes flowers bloom?

You can also purchase specific fertilizers for your flowers that will help to give them the extra boost of nutrition they need to bloom for longer periods of time. Here are a few of my favorites:

  • Osmocote Plus Smart Release Plant Food
  • Miracle Grow Bloom-Booster Flower Food
  • Spray-N-Grow Micronutrients

Visit the garden center multiple times a year

Visit a local gardening center in spring and you will find a myriad of perennial plants all in full flower. If you were to purchase a selection of these and plant them at home, chances are you would have lots of flowers for a few weeks or so. But, when summer rolls around your landscape will not have much interest. That’s because for the most part, the showiest, most eye-catching plants in the nursery are for sale during their peak bloom time.

So how can you avoid this? Easy. Visit the garden center multiple times a year (like you need an excuse!). In all seriousness, making multiple visits to the garden center will allow you to see different plants that bloom that time of year. Visiting the garden center in each season will help you to design a garden that has blooming interest in every season!

Never know what to plant together? Find out with this FREE Plant Pairing Guide and become a pro at combining plants for the best garden design possible!

Hey, since you’re already signed up for my emails, you may be interested in my Printable Garden Planner Kit. It includes 5 printable worksheets that you can use to plan and organize your landscape. Check it out here.

Plant multiple varieties of your favorite perennials

Did you know that some of your favorite perennials have multiple varieties? It’s true… and these varieties often times will bloom at different times of the year. So, using a mixture of different cultivars of the same plant or flower is a great way to extend the bloom sequence of your favorites over longer period of time. This is an easily overlooked tactic to use in your own garden.

If you’re familiar with alliums, you likely think of them as an easy-to-grow summer bulb. But, there’s actually varieties of alliums that will keep the blooms coming right up to the first frost. Start off the season with Purple sensation alliums (Zones 2-10) that begin blooming with the late daffodils and tulips. For late spring to early summer, plant some Gladiator alliums (Zones 3-8) near the back of your border. They grow on 3-4’ tall stalks with-6-inch-diameter flowers. In the summer, Circle (or curly) onions (Zones 4–9) have blue-green leaves with a corkscrew effect. They are a cool variety to try in Japanese-style gardens, rock gardens or the front of your mixed border. With just three allium varieties, you can enjoy your favorite flower from early spring to late summer!

Wrapping Up

Who doesn’t want a garden with flowers that bloom each and every season of the year? There are several things that you can do to make this happen. First, choose really long-blooming perennials like knockout roses, salvia and daylily. Make sure that you give your perennials the proper nutrients by fertilizing. The little bit of extra effort to deadhead your blooms after they die off will also promote longer bloom times for your favorite plants and flowers. Don’t forget to visit your local garden center multiple times a year so that you can ensure you’re buying plants that will bloom in different seasons. Finally, you can choose different varieties of your favorite flowers and plants in order to make it feel like they are blooming for longer periods of time. I love to do this with alliums.

More Great Gardening Posts

  • Ingenious ways to regain privacy from second story neighbors
  • What to plant with purple flowers
  • Binge-worthy gardening tv shows to whip your landscape into shape from the couch

Never know what to plant together? Find out with this FREE Plant Pairing Guide and become a pro at combining plants for the best garden design possible!

Hey, since you’re already signed up for my emails, you may be interested in my Printable Garden Planner Kit. It includes 5 printable worksheets that you can use to plan and organize your landscape. Check it out here. 130shares

Flower Drop Tips: Reasons Why Healthy Blooms Fall Off

If you’ve ever experienced the disappointment of having healthy buds and flowers drop off of your plants, this article is for you. Read on to find out what causes blossom drop in plants, and what you can do about it.

Why Do Flowers Fall Off?

In some cases, blossom drop in plants is normal. For instance, male flowers naturally drop from vegetable plants after a few days. Many vegetables, like squash, begin producing male flowers as much as two weeks before the first female flower bloom.

That being said, healthy blossoms can suddenly drop from plants due to inadequate pollination, environmental factors, low soil fertility and thrips.

Pollination

When healthy blooms fall off vegetables and other flowering plants a few days after they open, the flowers probably weren’t pollinated. Here are some of the reasons flowers don’t get pollinated:

High daytime temperatures or low night temperatures prevent pollination. The range of acceptable temperatures varies from plant to plant, but you can expect to lose some flowers when daytime temperatures are above 85 F. (29 C.) or night temperatures drop below 55 F. (12 C.). Tomatoes drop their flowers when nighttime temperatures remain above 75 F. (23 C.).

With the decline in honeybee populations, the lack of insect pollinators has become a major problem in some areas. Limit the use of insecticides, especially from midmorning until midafternoon when bees are out and about. Honeybees and several other insect pollinators don’t fly on cold or rainy days.

Environmental

Temperature fluctuations, such as those above, greatly affect plant blooms. In addition to flower drop during high temps, cooler temperatures following blossom set can also lead to healthy blossoms falling off.

Insufficient light, be it too much or too little, can also contribute to healthy flowers dropping off plants.

Soil Fertility

Low soil fertility can inhibit the continuance of healthy blooming. Rather than fertilizing at the onset of blooming, Apply fertilizers at least four to six weeks prior to flowering.

Thrips

Thrips can also cause buds and flowers to fall off of plants. These tiny pests get inside buds and feed on the petals. Although thrips are difficult to see without magnification, you can see the blotching and streaking on the petals.

Spinosad is an environmentally safe insecticide that kills thrips, but it is difficult to bring insecticides in contact with thrips because they are enclosed inside the buds. Non-chemical control options include controlling nearby grass and weeds, picking off and destroying infested buds, and regularly spraying the plants with water.

Flower Drop Tips

The blossoms on both vegetable and ornamental plants drop when the plant experiences stress. Here are some tips to minimize stress in the garden:

  • Keep the soil evenly moist. Mulch helps prevent water evaporation and keeps the moisture level even. Water slowly and deeply in the absence of rain, and never allow the soil to become dry.
  • Plants experience stress when they don’t have the proper nutrients. Most plants respond well to feeding in spring and midsummer with a layer of compost or a slow-release fertilizer. Some plants have special needs, and your seed packet or plant tag should explain how to feed them.
  • Plant flowers and vegetables in a location where they will get the right amount of sunlight. Both too little and too much sun can stress a plant and cause the flowers to drop.

If you follow these tips, you’ll have healthy plants with natural resistance to insects and diseases. If you notice signs of infestation, treat the plant as soon as possible.

Potted Rose Bush Losing It’s Leaves

Question:

My husband bought me a potted rose bush with baby roses on it. It is, of course, in the house, as we live in Iowa and it is WAY too cold to put outside. My concern is that it is dropping almost all of it’s leaves. Not sure why. They just seem to be drying up and dropping off. I try to keep it watered, but maybe I’m not enough? Maybe too much?

Also, the rose buds that had not opened when I got it have dried up and definitely will not be opening up now. This is my first rose bush and I really want it to survive. Can anyone give me any tips on how to properly care for it? We keep our house fairly cool, at 60 degrees, but according to the information on the pot, they grow best between 60 and 80 degrees.

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I am also keeping it where it can get the best benefit of the sun. My house isn’t super light, but it’s not dark either. I keep it in front of windows, but several feet back from the window so it won’t get too cold. Thanks ahead of time for any advice anyone can give me.

Robin from Washington, IA

Answer:

Indoors, miniature roses require the same care as they would outdoors. They need lots of sunlight, slightly moist soil, adequate fertilizer, and a fair amount of humidity (tough with dry winter air) to grow successfully. Nearly any type of rose can be grown in pots, but in general, miniature rose varieties do best because of their compact growing habits.

The most common reason roses fail is improper watering. If buds and flowers start to look dry and shriveled, and leaves are suddenly dropping, the plant is drying out and should be watered immediately.

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The best way to water is to place the pot on a tray and water from below the foliage. When water runs freely into the tray, stop watering. Allow the water to drain into the saucer for a few more minutes and then dump any excess water that remains in the tray. Never let the pot stand in water. The goal is to keep the soil slightly moist, but NOT wet.

Yellow leaves can be a sign of too much water or not enough light. If your pot came wrapped in foil, remove it so excess water can escape and move it to the brightest area possible (preferably a south-facing window). If you can’t provide it with at least 5 hours of direct sunlight a day, you might want to consider supplementing it with an artificial grow light until you can get it into the garden. If you think you may have over-watered, let the soil dry out before resuming watering, and remember that with fewer leaves, it now needs less water.

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At 60F, temperature is probably not your problem. Humidity may be a factor, as miniature roses do not like warm, dry air. Setting the pot on a pebble tray filled with water will help keep the air around it more humid.

Keep in mind that roses forced to bloom in the winter will be difficult to keep looking good until spring if kept indoors. This does not mean they will be lost, it just means that they may not look the greatest by the time spring rolls around. If your rose bush has lost many leaves, you may want to cut it back to about 2-3 inches, or to the point where you see a healthy, green-white stalk. New growth should reappear in 6-10 days.

Good luck!

Ellen

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